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Tomasz Zamoyski in 1725, on land belonging to the village of Majdan Nepryski. It was the last town
to be founded in the Zamosc Estate. Zamoyski wanted the new town to become a commercial, service
and administrative center. The development of Jozefow was primarily linked with trade, crafts, and
masonry. Located on the banks of the Niepryszka river, in a region called Central Roztocze, Jozefow
is where three parks converge: Roztoczanski National Park, Solska Forest Landscape Park and
Krasnobrodzki Landscape Park. Jews began settlement in the town around its incorporation in 1725,
mostly living on Sitarski street. In 1865 there were 675 Jews which made up nearly 78% of the town
population. By 1921, the number of Jews in the city had grown to 1,050 and remained at 78% of the
total population. In 1865, the town had 8 tailors, two blacksmiths, 2 printers of Hebrew books (Szija
Waks and Dawid Sadie), 2 elementary school teachers, one gravedigger, 7 bookbinders, one barber
surgeon, one carpenter, one cooper, one candle maker, one oil manufacturer, one organist, 8 bakers,
8 sieve makers, 30 farmers, 6 butchers, 2 woodworkers, 6 cobblers, one glazier, 3 innkeepers, 7
salt-traders, one weaver, 4 groats millers, 20 market traders, and 2 bricklayers.
In 1774, a Jewish cemetery and a wooden synagogue were established; the latter suffered from several
fires. In the late 18th century or at the turn of the 19th century, a new brick synagogue was built.
A strong Hasidic influence came to the fore in Jozefow in the second half of the 19th century. During
the interwar period, Jozefow was one of six Jewish communities in Bilgoraj County. The local Jewish
community council managed the synagogue, cemetery, ritual bath and slaughterhouse. Of all buildings
and facilities belonging to the Jewish community, only the shul and cemetery have survived until today.
Jews settled in the southern part of the marketplace. At its western side they built a synagogue, initially
wooden, but after a fire in 1850 rebuilt as a brick building. The Jewish cemetery was located in the
southern part of the town, and the parish church was built in the eastern part. The Measurement
Report of the Town of Jozefow from 1785 lists the following: 7 streets and roads, marketplace, church,
presbytery, vicar's house, church organist's house, 16 cottages inhabited by commoners, town hall,
granary, synagogue, bath houses, Jewish school, rabbi's house, and 7 distilleries. According to
the "Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland", there were 174 houses in Jozefow in 1834,
including 157 wooden and 17 brick houses; in 1861 Jozefow had 166 houses, including 20
wood houses. And in 1887 the town of Jozefow had 121 houses, including 27 brick ones.
During and after World War I, political parties formed in the town including the Bund, Agudas (orthodox),
Poale Zion and Mizrachi. In the 1920s, HeHalutz Zionist youth groups were established. Fifty male
students studied at the Talmud Torah and Yeshiva in town. In 1928, a school for girls called Beit
Yaakov Agudas was established.
In September 1939, around 300 Jews from the town fled eastward with the retreating Red Army.
The German occupiers set up two labor camps in the suburbs of Jozefow where Jews were placed.
In March, 1941 the Jozefow Ghetto was established, and 600 Jews were sent to Jozefow from Konin.
In the summer of 1942, there were about 1,800 Jews in the Jozefow Ghetto.
In May of 1942, the gestapo men in Bilgoraj shot about 120 Jews from Jozefow. On July 13, 1942,
after the selection, about 200-400 young men from the ghetto in the suburbs were sent to labor camps
in Lublin. Additionally, a group of 1,700 Jewish women, children and elderly, were shot in a mass
execution at Mount Winiarczykowej. The execution is described in the book by Christopher R.
Browning called "Ordinary People: 101 Reserve Police Battalion and the Final Solution". A stone
monument to commemorate the victims is located on the edge of the forest, near the road leading from
Jozefow. The Nazis responsible for the 1,700 deaths include, among many others: Major Wilhelm
Trapp, who was sentenced to death in Poland; Heinz Buchmann; Arthur Kammer; and
Hauptsturmfuhrers Wolfgang Hoffman and Julius Wohlauf. Buchmann and Kammer received short
sentences in prison and the others were not punished. According to one witness of the crime:
"When the first truckload of 40 Jews arrived, an equal number of policemen came forward and face
to face were paired off with their victims. Led by Kammer, the policemen and Jews marched down
the forest path. They turned off into the woods at a point indicated by Captain Wohlauf -- who busied
himself throughout the day selecting the execution sites. Kammer then ordered the Jews to lie down
in a row. The policemen stepped up behind them, placed their bayonets on the backbone above
the shoulder blades as earlier instructed, and -- upon Kammer's orders -- fired in unison."
At the beginning of November 1942, 600 Jews who remained in Jozefow, many of them from
Germany, were transported to the gas chambers at the Belzec Death Camp.
The synagogue was built in the early 19th century on the site of an earlier wooden synagogue that burned
down in 1850. The Baroque synagogue was built of limestone obtained from the local quarry. Designed
on a rectangular plan, it measured 13.8 by 20 meters. The single-space interior was divided by a wall
and consisted of a vestibule and prayer hall. The exterior decoration is limited to pilaster strips on the
walls and the decorative entrance, flanked by pilasters topped with a cornice and vases. Inside,
a simple Aron ha-Kodesh and arcade niches in the walls have been preserved. Initially, the western
wall of the building was adjoined by a wooden vestibule and women's section, dismantled in 1945. The
synagogue was used as a place of worship until its devastation by the Nazis in 1941. After the war,
from 1950, the building was used by the local cooperative as a storehouse. The original ceiling was
destroyed when the roof collapsed in 1964. The former synagogue is now the public library.
The Jewish cemetery was probably established around the mid-18th century. Originally, the cemetery
was surrounded by a stone wall with a gate facing the town. In 1848, the cemetery area was expanded.
The cemetery was devastated during the Holocaust and the gravestones were used to pave roads and
build the foundations of houses. With approximately 400 matzevot placed in 35 rows preserved until
today, the cemetery in Jozefow is one of the largest collections of Jewish gravestones in the Lublin
region. The oldest gravestone dates back to 1743. The largest grouping of preserved matzevot, dating
back to the years 1907-1940, can be found along the eastern side of the cemetery. Men's graves and
women's graves are in separate parts of the cemetery. Remnants of polychrome decoration can be
seen on gravestones. Jozefow is featured in a short story by Isaac Bashevis Singer entitled "The Old Man."
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Learn more at the Belzec Remembrance Project
Jozefow market square, pre-war.
Jewish girls in Jozefow near Bilgoraj, 1934.
Police Battalion 101 supervising women undressing. Unknown location during the Shoah.
This Nazi unit murdered the native and refugee population of Jozefow on July 13, 1942 in a 17
hour period at Winiarczykowa Gora hill.
Police Battalion 101 in Krzywa, Poland.
Police Battalion 101 in Jozefow, Poland.
Memorial in the forest of Winiarczykowa Gora near Jozefow commemorating the Jewish
victims of the 1942 massacre committed by the Reserve Police Battalion 101. The inscription
omits the name of the Nazi German formation.
Join the Jozefow group on Facebook!
City of Jozefow:
Survivors of Jozefow Bilgorajski:
Chaim Graf (killed in 1948 in Israel)
Israel Schleicher (Szlajcher)
Jewish Records Indexing Poland - Jozefow
Jewish Vital Records in the Polish State Archives
Remember Your Family:
The DNA Shoah Project: Connecting Descendants
Central Judaica Database - Museum of History of Polish Jews
Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors on Facebook
Guide to the YIVO Archives
Holocaust News/Events from Generations of the Shoah Int'l
Holocaust Survivors and Victims Database
JewishGen Family Finder
JewishGen Holocaust Database
JRI-Poland: Search for Your Family
Museum of History of Polish Jews Introduction
Yad Vashem: Search for Your Family
Yad Vashem: Submit Names of Your Family Members
Yad Vashem Requests Photos of Shoah Survivors and Families
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